Alaska Fishing Trip, August 2015

Not too many people in this world get a chance to go on an epic fishing trip in Alaska for Salmon and Halibut, but I did and with the blessing of my beautiful wife Linna and I took it. My long-time friend John Dorsey asked me to come along on this grand fishing trip with both his sons. His son Michael Dorsey is a professional fishing guide during the summer and hunting guide during the winter at the famous Hatchery Cove Lodge on Evans Island near the tiny village of Chenega, Alaska. Michael is the Captain of Halibut Hooker, a new 43 foot fishing boat equipped with two 310hp Volvo engines owned by Bob Hodsons. Bob is also the owner of Barney’s Sports Chalet a specialty outdoors shop in Anchorage, Alaska. A special thanks goes out to Bob Hodsons to let me live the dream for a few days!

John and his other son Matthew Dorsey from Fort Collins, Colorado flew into Seattle from Denver where we met up and the three of us took the same Delta flight to Anchorage, Alaska. Delta Airlines is starting to match routes with Alaska Airlines and Delta was offering this killer deal for $180 bucks round-trip from Seattle to Anchorage…oh hell yes.

Michael and his son Hunter were waiting for us in Anchorage, I haven’t seen Michael for a couple of years and I didn’t recognize him at first sporting a thick Jeremiah Johnson reddish beard. We picked up groceries in Anchorage and drove over to Whittier where the Halibut Hooker was mooraged. We quickly loaded up the boat with 5 days of supplies and took off on a three hour tour to the Hatchery Cove also owned by Bob Hodsons.

We fished for 4 days nearly limiting every day on Coho Salmon, Halibut and a bunch of Rock fish. We were allowed 3 Coho (Silvers) Salmon and 2 Halibut each day, but 50 miles to the East in Resurrection Bay near Seward, Alaska you were allowed 6 Coho a day.

When it comes to fishing, the Dorsey clan have so much fishing experience that you will be assured there will be fish on the boat and a lot of it. Even though I held my own, the Dorsey’s out fished me each day; they are also gentlemen when it comes to splitting the vacuum packed fillets at the end of the trip.

Nebraska Trip, June 2015

This was a perfect trip…lovely weather, worthy friends and a bit of nirvana.

I had an opportunity to visit my hometown of Cozad, Nebraska and I took it…or I should say my lovely wife Linna gave me her blessing to fly back home for 4 days to see friends and classmates. I also had a motive, my good friend and classmate Jerry Story was coming back from Finland with his family and we haven’t seen each other for a couple of years or so. Plus my other good friends and classmates Brad Wilcher and Nick Morse from Lincoln, Nebraska were coming back too. My ex-brother-in-law Brad Stallbaumer opened up his 6 bedroom house to Wilcher and I and we used it for home base the whole weekend.

First night back we all met up at the local Elks club for food and beverage, we had other 1979 classmates that showed up too; Andy Pflaster, Todd Morris, Deb Hunke and Kelly Worrell. Of course we closed down the Elks and a few of us walked over to Big E’s…the only bar left in my small town of 3,500 people. Even though I finally got to bed in the wee hours, I answered the bell for breakfast at the Green Apple restaurant in Cozad…of course my classmate Todd Morris had to call me out of bed though.

Breakfast was followed by a fishing trip with a long time buddy John Dorsey out to Johnson Lake about 15 miles from Cozad. We usually limit out on decent size Walleye, but our fishing rods were only bringing in small rubbish fish. Not to waste any precious time during this well-deserved hometown visit our group took off to Eustis, Nebraska for Wurst Tag for the evening; this is more or less one big ass party that is similar to Oktoberfest. This was actually a fabulous time to meet up with many old friends to share stories. One major gripe I have is the light beer they were serving during a major German type festival…your only choices were Coors Light, Bud Light and Busch Light! Who in their right mind would serve such crap beer for a major German festival?

My last day was another Green Apple breakfast followed by some target shooting with the Story family. I brought back my 9mm and .45 Kimber 1911 style guns from Seattle and we shot 200 rounds of ammo. This was the first time shooting for Erika and Patrick Story and I know they appreciated it.

Nebraska Trip, July 2012

I had two main reasons for this trip, to see my sister Nova in Nebraska and to summit Mt. Elbert on my 52nd birthday in Colorado. I flew to Omaha via a Minneapolis connection by myself; Linna would join me later in the week in Denver. It was a smooth and sunny flight over to Minneapolis; the beautiful Cascades still had a lot of snow on top.

After flying into Omaha, I grabbed a rental car and drove over to my sister Alicia’s house in La Vista, Nebraska for a long overdue visit with her and her children Kason and Jolie. Later in the day I drove over to Lincoln to meet up with Brad Wilcher an old classmate of mine from high school. I lived with Brad and his family for a small stint my senior year in Cozad and we have maintained a worthy correspondence ever since. We ended up having a few beers at a local hot spot talking about old times, people and sharing a few laughs.

The next day was a leisurely drive to Kearney, Nebraska to meet up with my sister Nova where she was having some medical testing done. She was diagnosed with cancer about 1 1/2 years ago; she looked great for what she has endured. After her testing we met at the Alley Rose, about the only nice restaurant in this small college town of 30,000 people. I didn’t have any plans after dinner so I decided to call John Dorsey on a whim who lives in my hometown of Cozad. After a quick 45 minute drive I was sitting in John’s backyard enjoying a refreshing cold beverage with him and his son Mike Dorsey. Mike is a retired Marine and is living out to Johnson Lake for a few months before heading onto Alaska where he will guide big game hunts and fishing trips. John was nice enough to offer up a guest bedroom and a delicious brunch the next day. Before driving out to Johnson Lake for a swim I stopped by to chat with Deb Hunke, another old classmate of mine.

Later in the evening I met up with my ex-brother-n-law Brad Stallbaumer and his wife Gina Krysl Clyde at the local Elks Club. During dinner a woman came over to grab a spare chair from our table and to my surprise it was another classmate of mine Renee Rowe, it seems I run into her on every Cozad trip I make. After dinner we cruised around Cozad and to check out Brad’s house where he is adding another 2,200 square feet.

I left Cozad around 9:30 p.m. to head toward Denver; I thought I would stay at the Hampton Inn in North Platte about a 45 minute drive west. They were full, no biggie I said to myself…I will drive to the next town toward Denver. Well, the next town and the next town were all full too. I finally pulled over in a hotel parking lot and crawled in back of my rented Jeep and crashed about 1:30 a.m. After sleeping for about 6 hours I woke up in my same clothes I had on the day before and went into the Hampton Inn and had breakfast. I picked up my wife Linna at the Denver airport at 3:00 p.m. and headed for Mt. Elbert, my birthday hike.

Lake Oahe Trip, July 2011

It has been three years since I have been to Lake Oahe, South Dakota. This is an annual fishing trip that I started going on with a few of my Nebraska buddies; the first year I made the trip to Lake Oahe was in 1995. I went year after year and then took a 3 year break after the 2007 fishing trip. The early years, it was a trio that consisted of John Dorsey, AJ Hudjins and myself. AJ and John live in Cozad, Nebraska (my hometown) and the last few times Scott Diehl has been joining us, he lives in Brady, Nebraska about 30 miles from Cozad. This year, AJ didn’t make the trip due to his moving from Cozad to Hartwell, Georgia to start a new job.

My wife Linna had the pleasure of waking up at 4:30 a.m. to give me a ride to the airport. I flew from Seattle to Minneapolis and then back to Pierre, South Dakota. The flight from Minneapolis to Pierre was on a small turbo-prop plane….which was loud and slow. John and Scott were waiting for me at the Pierre airport with a cold beer. John picked up Scott in Brady about the same time my flight took off from Seattle. John and Scott pretty much just had to drive due North, a 5 hour drive to Pierre. As usual we headed to Dakota Mart to pick-up a few items, a store that carries guns, fishing equipment, liquor, clothing and groceries. We stayed at the West Prairie Resort, a place we have been doing business with for the last 4 fishing trips. The owners Terry and Tammy Nelson are some of the nicest people you will ever meet; Terry is considered to be the best guide on Lake Oahe by his peers and customers.

Each morning consisted of breakfast at the lodge and out on the lake by 9:00 a.m. We usually had our limit by early afternoon, which was a good time to get off the lake. Fishing in mid-summer on Lake Oahe, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees, which must have reached each day for us! When we got back to our air conditioned cabin, it felt like you walked out of an oven into a refrigerator. Seattle hadn’t had a full day over 80 degrees yet and my body was acclimated for the low 70’s. After each day of fishing, Terry would clean, pack and put our fish in our cabin freezer. He treats you like a king on the boat and makes sure you are having a great time. He will even bait your hook and take your fish off….as he did for Scott all three days; of course John and I were making fun of it! This resort goes beyond the usual customer service, since my flight was in the late afternoon and my Nebraska buddies wanted to take off in the morning, Terry gave me a car to drive to the airport. So I stuck around the resort and used the wireless until I needed to catch my flight.

Nebraska Trip, April 2011

I haven’t been back to my hometown (Cozad, Nebraska) since my class reunion in September 2009.  The main purpose was to spend Easter with my sister Nova Walker, she was diagnosed with cancer 6 months ago.  Linna and I flew direct from Seattle to Denver on Alaska Airlines, just a little over 2 hours.  Cozad is located on Interstate 80 halfway between Denver and Omaha; taking a direct flight from Seattle is much easier than flying into Omaha with a connection and still driving 4 hours.  The Eastern side of Colorado is not much to look at and all it does is encourages you to drive as fast as you can through it.  Speed limit is 75 and I usually drive 85 to 95 to make sure I get to Cozad for dinner…..well this time I had Mr. State Trooper stop me to say hi. 

After we settled in with my good friend AJ Hudgins and his girlfriend of 27 years, Colleen Favinger in Cozad we headed out to Bella Italia for dinner.  There isn’t much in Cozad, but I have to admit I am totally impressed with this Italian restaurant located in my small hometown.  After dinner, AJ and I sat up until 4 a.m. gossiping about the 4,000 residents in Cozad.  The next two days AJ and I spent driving around Cozad seeing old friends and neighbors.  We stopped in to visit with Mark McKeone, Scott Diehl, Eric Seaman, Marty Munster, Verna Story, Ardi Wilcher, Heidi Bazata, John Dorsey, Scott Hergenrader, Sherry Armagost and even dropped off a dozen tulips to Ardi Wilcher.

Linna and I spent Easter Sunday with my sisters Nova and Alicia and their families.  We started the day off with church service at the Nazarene; I haven’t been to a church service for 9 years or so…..and it might be another 9 before I go back.  After church we drove over to Gothenburg, ten miles west of Cozad for brunch at Walker’s Steakhouse.  After munching down the Midwest buffet, we headed back to Nova’s house for pictures and an Easter egg hunt for the kids. 

Most all small towns in the Midwest, especially Nebraska….the towns are pretty much closed down on Sundays….which means there is no place to dine.  The nearest town for a decent dinner on a Sunday is Kearney, a college town 50 miles East of Cozad.  We first stopped at Hunan’s, a Chinese restaurant that Linna rejected after taking one look at the menu.  After another late night, we got up Monday morning and headed back to Denver.  I took a small detour to Sidney, Nebraska and stopped in at Cabelas to pick up a new shotgun case for my over/under Browning Citori 12 guage shotgun that I was flying back to Seattle with me.